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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Interview of Author Sarka-Jonae Miller



Author name:

Sarka-Jonae Miller

Book Title:

Between Boyfriends



Release Date:

September 20, 2011


What made you decide to write this book?

I had a lot of friends like Jan in college and high school, girls who could never be single and changed for every new guy they met. I was curious about why they were like that and if it was possible for them to change. I thought by writing a book from the perspective of a woman like that I could better understand that mentality and then explain it in a way that was funny and helpful

What is the genre?

Chick lit

How did you start your career?

I feel like I still am starting my career even though I have been writing my entire life. I wrote a lot in grade school and high school. I loved creative writing but did not have the confidence to submit my stories anywhere. When I went to college at Syracuse University I took more fiction courses and majored in Magazine Journalism so I could learn to write better, but still have a major that could get me a job. I started writing my first novel, “Between Boyfriends,” during my junior year but did not finish for several years. After graduation I eventually found a way to make money writing for health websites. I've been writing full-time for a few years now and I currently working on the sequel to “Between Boyfriends,” plus another chick lit book and some short stories.

Who/what inspired you?

Any time I read a book that makes me laugh and makes me think I get inspired. My favorite authors cross several genres and include Terry Brooks, Sophie Kinsella, Risa Green, Lauren Weisberger, Terry Goodkind, James Redfield, Candace Bushnell, Charlaine Harris, Juliette Sobanet, Laurell K. Hamiliton, and Dan Millman. Reading anything by one of my favorite authors inspires me to write.

Discovering new authors, seeing a great movie adapted from a book and getting positive feedback for “Between Boyfriends” all inspires me too. If anytime I feel like I cannot get motivated to be creative I throw on a Michael Jackson CD. His talent, his compassion, his drive to be the best began to inspire me when I was 2 years old and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.

Do you have any future projects planned?

Absolutely. I've taken two trips to Thailand for research for the “Between Boyfriends” sequel. I should have that finished soon. I also spent a week in Paris and made several trips to San Francisco for another chick lit book I am writing. I also write health articles pretty much every day for blogs and websites.

How long have you been writing?

Since I could spell.

Did it start as a hobby or a passion – planned or unplanned?

I don't really remember. I know that when I was in grade school we would be told to write short stories and my short stories often turned into short novellas because once I started writing I just couldn't stop. I was a good student overall, but I didn't feel compelled to work as hard as anything like I did with creative writing.

Would you have changed anything about your story?

It turned out a little longer than I intended, much like the stories I wrote in school. I might have taken out a few minor things to shorten it up a bit just so the book was closer to the word count that is expected for the genre, but then again I probably wouldn't. Some of that stuff is really fun.

What have you learned in the process?

I have learned that you have to write every day if you are serious about being a writer. It is too easy to put it off and then get caught up in other responsibilities. You won't finish anything if you don't make yourself sit down and write, even if you don't feel like it or nothing is coming out right.

What do you consider your writing style to be?

I definitely try to make people laugh. My style is light, though at times snarky. I focus a lot on dialogue on movement without a lot of description in terms of landscape. I'm more interested in people's thoughts and body language, what they do and why. I'm not the type of writer that uses really poetic or dramatic writing to tell a story. I just like to make people laugh while I sneak in some interesting observations about human nature.

Did you have any support during the process or no support?

I have tons of support. I have a very loyal and insightful group of friends who are my beta readers, my proofreaders and my biggest critics. They know that they can absolutely tell me they hate an idea or something I write and I will thank them for it. I know if there is something they don't like it is probably because it isn't any good and not because they just don't like my style. I find that a lot of people attack authors whose characters, plot or writing style they don't like and say the writer is bad when in reality the book just isn't their cup of tea. That type of criticism is baseless and unhelpful, and I am really glad I have a lot of people to give me constructive criticism plus a lot of support. Everyone wants me to succeed and I try to help them with their creative endeavors, from music to jewelry making.

Who would you consider to be your hero?

Michael Jackson. I never got to meet him when he was alive, but I did get to be in two of the music videos they filmed after he passed. I met hundreds of other fans who have also been inspired by him. Through them, I've connected with thousands of fans around the world. We all support each other.

What would you tell other aspiring authors?

Marry a publisher. Just kidding. I would tell them one to just write every day like I already said. Also, I know that most of us hate grammar and are used to spell check to catch mistakes but if you are serious about being a writer you need to learn the basics of good writing. You may not have the money to afford an editor when you are just starting out and you need to be able to catch most of your own mistakes.

Did you find the journey to be a difficult one?

I would say that nothing about the journey to become a writer is easy. It's worth it if you love it, but a writer has to have a lot of self-motivation, perseverance, patience and the ability to handle criticism and rejection. You also have to like spending a lot of time by yourself. It is not a path for everyone.

What was the happiest point; when the manuscript was completed or when the book was put in print?

Well my book is still just in the ebook stage though I am working on getting an audio book out soon. I love the convenience of ebooks and audio books. I think, though, that although finishing my book was a major accomplishment and made me very happy, seeing it online for sale was even more special. My most happy moment though was when “Between Boyfriends” became the #1 selling chick lit book on the site within the first month of publication.

What are your plans for the future of your writing career?

I plan to write two more books in my “Between Boyfriends” series. I have three other books that I am working on now and a fantasy book I'd like to write in the future. My plan is just to keep writing and publishing anything I can. I'd like to adapt “Between Boyfriends” as a movie someday. The physical comedy would be really fun to see on screen.

Looking back, would you have changed anything?

I took a good two years to complete a major rewrite of “Between Boyfriends” based on feedback from literary agents. If I had the chance to do it again, I would have not put that off so long. I would have just sat down and made the changes so I could have published sooner.

Do you feel that the story took on a life of it's own, or did it go just as you planned?

I did not follow an outline writing this book at all. I sat down and just wrote. The story absolutely took on a life of its own. I am sticking more closely to an outline for the sequel though. I do believe outlining is an important part of the writing process.

What is your favorite saying or quote; and why?

As simple as it sounds I think my favorite saying is “No harm.” This is the shortened version of the Wiccan Rede “An ye harm none, do what ye will” and the same message stated in the Golden Rule. Whenever I feel upset or negative I try to think “No harm” to remind myself to always strive to be kind, to others, to myself and to the world. I certainly fail at this sometimes but it is a goal. I feel better just remembering the saying.

Tell us something, that most people don't know about you.

When I was a kid I couldn't say the word “aluminum.” I swear I could not say it, so I never tried in public. I would say something like “alumimumum” with the first syllable like “alum” instead of “a-loom.” I don't remember how old I was exactly the first time I said it correctly, but I was a teenager and I do remember how happy and surprised I was when I finally got it right. I still can't explain why it was so hard for me.